Attention all NY-based Reverse Shotters. (Which I think is most of you). Your Toronto-based correspondent has seen a Great Canadian Film, and it's not directed by David Cronenberg. It is, however, a history of violence, and it is coming to your beautiful Museum of Modern Art next week. On Wednesday, March 15, at 9:00; Thursday, March 16, at 6:00, to be precise.
It's called Six Figures, and it's directed by a Calgary-based filmmaker named David Christensen. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, and it was one of the only Canadian films I didn't see there-- I caught it at a press screening on Monday, much to my delight.
At the time, I was depressed about missing a simultaneous showing of V for Vendetta. Why, I wondered, was I left to mop up the leftover Can-con while my friends and peers got to thrill to some comic-book allegory featuring a bald Natalie Portman? And then I saw V for Vendetta later that day. It is not a good movie at all. Six Figures, on the other hand...well, I can't imagine I'll see 10 better movies this year (well, 9 plus Snakes on a Plane.)
Six Figures is about a couple who want to buy a house in Calgary. I know, your pulses are racing. But it's evident from the first frame that Christensen, a former critic and documentarian, has his stuff together. His style, which favors long takes and subtly impassive compositions weighted with fully justified portent, is more than a little reminiscent of Michael Haneke (a stated influence), as is the film's centerpiece sequence, a perfectly staged moment of shocking (not graphic) brutality that left my un-jangle-able nerves severely jangled. How Six Figures develops from a film about househunting to an exploration of the subtly attenuated fallout of an attempted homicide is for you to discover. I'm gonna guess you're intrigued, so get to it, and we'll all talk about it afterwards.
And while you're at it, you might as well see the other Canadian masterpiece from last year: Allan King's documentary Memory: For Max, Ida, Claire and Company ( Friday, March 17, 8:30; Saturday, March 18, 1:00.) King is a contemporary of Fred Wiseman, and one of the true pioneers of direct cinema. Memory is about a group of Alzheimer's patients at the Baycrest Centre in Toronto, and it's bracing, aching, lovely and human.
Neither film got a sniff at the Genie Awards this week (our Oscars), but we're a bunch of Conservative-voting hockeyists. What do we know?